It’s been a challenging year, with social isolation, a worldwide pandemic, and having to be confined indoors. Now that it’s Summer, and most of the outdoor restrictions have been lifted, it is exciting to finally be able to venture outdoors and enjoy the beautiful weather, the blossoming flowers, and the abundant sunshine! However, there are safety risks to keep in mind when we venture outdoors. It’s important to take precautions when taking aging adults out into the sun and heat.
Tips for Keeping Aging Adults Safe in the Sun
by Elyse Weber-Sacks, MSW, LSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Professional®
Older adults are more vulnerable to heat stroke as are those with heart, lung, or kidney disease. These seven safety tips will help beat the heat and keep you and your aging loved one safe outside this summer:
- Wear Sunscreen. It doesn’t matter if you will be outside for a half-hour or all day, sunscreen use is essential for skin health and blocking sun rays (it’s a good idea to read the label to ensure you are getting adequate sun protection from UVA and UVB rays).
- Bring sunglasses. Especially if you’re driving on a sunny day, glare can obstruct vision. It’s a good idea to have an extra pair of sunglasses in the car or in your bag.
- Bring water. Reusable water bottles are a great investment. Not only are they environmentally friendly, they are portable and most do a great job at keeping water nice and cool. Don’t leave the house without a supply of water and remember to frequently drink even if you’re not feeling thirsty. Try to avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol which can be dehydrating.
- Dress appropriately. When the weather is unpredictable, wear layers. In warm weather try to wear fabrics that breathe and avoid heavy bulky fabrics such as synthetic materials or wool. You can also bring a light sweater/jacket to put on if you get chilly.
- Don’t forget the chance of rain. In summer months, storms can sneak right up on us and no one likes getting caught in the rain. Consider investing in a small portable umbrella to keep in your car/purse.
- Be mindful of overdoing it. Heatstroke can occur when we exert ourselves too much without proper hydration, or perhaps in conjunction with medical/physical issues. Be very aware of your physical symptoms. If you start to feel dizzy, exhausted, nauseous, excessively sweaty, or get out of breath…stop! Try to find a shaded spot, indoors if possible, and sit down. Drink and, if possible, splash cool water on your face, neck, and wrists. Rest and rehydrate until you feel steady again. Seek medical attention if you do not improve or lose consciousness. Also learn to recognize the symptoms of heat stroke so that if you are with someone showing the symptoms you can assist them in getting immediate medical attention. Heat stroke symptoms can include: fainting or loss of consciousness, dizziness, behavioral changes (confusion, irritability), flushed skin, and weak pulse.
- Check-in on older loved ones when it is especially hot. Make sure they have enough to drink, aren’t exerting themselves, and have access to a comfortable environment. If they don’t have air conditioning, suggest they visit a friend who does, or that they go into a shopping center, library, or senior center to sit and cool off.
With these precautions in mind, we can all enjoy the great outdoors safely and comfortably.
About the author: Elyse Weber-Sacks, MSW, LSW, CMC is the president of Connie Rosenberg & Associates Care Management – celebrating 35 years seniors and the disabled. She is a licensed social worker in both New York and New Jersey. Elyse is certified as a Geriatric Care Manager by the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and is an Aging Life Care Professional®. She is a past president of the New Jersey Chapter of ALCA and was the 2016 recipient of the Outstanding Chapter member award. In January 2020, Elyse was elected to the Board of Directors of the Aging Life Care Association®.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.